Errol John “Jack” Emanuel GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 13/12/1918 Enfield, NSW, Australia. d. 19/08/1971 Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 19/08/1971 Gazelle Peninsula, PNG.

Errol John “Jack” Emanuel GC was born on 13th December 1918 in Enfield, New South Wales, Australia. He was the son of Robert Percival and Elsie Emanuel (nee Adams). He went to school in Sydney, and later, worked as, first, a police officer, and, later, as a fireman. However, after the Second World War, he went to Papua New Guinea, off northern Australia, as a patrol officer. He married Alma May Bown in 1944, and had three children. She died in 1965 and he married again to Ellen.

Errol J “Jack” Emanuel GC

In July 1969, he was given special duties as District Commissioner for the East New Britain area. There were some hostile indigenous groups there but Emanuel insisted on travelling alone to meet them, often at night, in order to build up a trust. For two years, he encouraged some 70,000 Tolai people to discuss their problems in a peaceful manner. However, he was often the target of death threats. On several occasions, he met with public confrontations and scenes of imminent violence between police and protestors. He often placed himself at risk to try and pacify the dissidents and his courage often averted bloodshed.

On 19th August 1971, at a plantation on the Gazelle peninsula, Emanuel again took on the role of peacemaker in the presence of hostile locals. Some of the Tolai had donned warpaint to show their hostility. At the invitation of some of the dissidents and in particular a man called William Taupa, Emanuel left the protection of the police. Taupa then led Emanuel towards a path into the bush and they left the sight of the police. Twenty minutes later when Emanuel had not emerged, Senior Superintendent Greville Feeney sent two police officers down the bush path to look for him. Tragically, they found Emanuel’s body, stabbed to death with two rusty Japanese bayonets nearby. There was no sign of Taupa.

Taupa was arrested the following day at 7.30am attempting to board a flight to Port Moresby. Taupa was one of 13 men who were tried for Emanuel’s murder. The trial occurred between February and June 1972 in Rabaul, where incidentally, Emanuel was laid to rest in the European Cemetery. Just two days before the opening of the trial, Emanuel’s posthumous GC was announced. The result of the trial saw 8 men acquitted, three conspirators were given shorter sentences, while the two main defendants, Taupa and Anton Tovaliria (whom Taupa claimed was the murderer) were sentenced to 14 and 11 years respectively. The George Cross was posted to his widow on 29th March 1972 from Government House, Canberra. A planned presentation of the medal in Port Moresby was cancelled due to the delicate political situation there. Emanuel’s George Cross was sold in 1977 for £3,000 and is held in the National Museum in Port Moresby.